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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
Page 1022 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

of heavy marches, deficient commissariat, want of shoes, and inefficient officers. Owing to these combined causes, the division numbered less than 5,000 men the morning of September 14, and had five roads to guard, extending over a space of as many miles. This small force successfully resisted, without support, for eight hours, the whole Yankee army, and, when its supports were beaten, still held the roads, so that our retreat was effected without the loss of a gun, a wagon, or an ambulance. Rodes' brigade had immortalized itself; Colquitt's had fought well, and the two regiments most closely pressed (Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth Georgia) had repulsed the foe. Garland's brigade had behaved nobly, until demoralized by the fall of its gallant leader, and being outflanked Ripley's brigade, for some cause, had not been engaged, and was used with Hood's two brigades to cover the retreat.

Had Longstreet's division been with mine at daylight in the morning, the Yankees would have been disastrously repulsed; but they had gained important positions before the arrival of re-enforcements. These additional troops came up, after a long, hurried, and exhausting march, to defend localities of which they were ignorant, and to fight a foe flushed with partial success, and already holding key-points to further advance. had our forces never been separated, the battle of Sharpsburg never would have been fought, and the Yankees would not have even the shadow of consolation for the loss of Harper's Ferry.

We reached Sharpsburg about daylight on the morning of the 15th. The Yankees made their appearance that day, and some skirmishing and cannonading occurred.

There was a great deal of artillery firing during the forenoon of the 16th, and late that afternoon the Yankees crossed the Antietam opposite the center of my line and made for the Hagerstown turnpike. Had we been in a condition to attack them as they crossed, much damage might have been inflicted; but as yet there were but two weak divisions on the ground. Longstreet held the position south of the Boonsborough turnpike, and I that on the right. Hood's command was placed on my left to guard the Hagerstown pike. Just before sundown I got up a battery (Lane's), of Cutts' battalion, to open upon the Yankee columns advancing toward that pike, while Colonel Stephen D. Lee brought up another farther on the right. These checked the Yankee advance, and enabled jackson to take position on Hood's left and covering any attempt to turn us in that direction.

My ranks had been diminished by some additional straggling, and the morning of the 17th I had but 3,000 infantry. I had, however, twenty-six pieces of artillery of my own and near fifty [?] pieces of Cutts' battalion, temporarily under my command. Positions were selected for as many of these guns as could be used; but all the ground in my front was completely commanded by the long-range artillery of the Yankees on the other side of the Antietam, which concentrated their fire upon every gun that opened and soon disabled or silenced it.

At daylight a brisk skirmish began along Hood's front, and Colquitt, Ripley, and McRae (commanding Garland's brigade) were moved up to his support. Hood's men always fight well, and they were handsomely supported by Colquitt and Ripley. The first line of the Yankees was broken, and our men pushed vigorously forward, but to meet another and yet another, line. Colquitt had gone in with 10 field officers; 4 were killed, 5 badly wounded, and the tenth had been stunned by a shell. The men were beginning to fall back, and efforts were made to rally them in the bed of an old road, nearly at right angles to the Hagerstown


Page 1022 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam)
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